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  • Posted January 28, 2019

Don’t Make Decisions in a Vacuum

I’ve been reflecting on choices I’ve made over the years and I was struck by how often I allowed myself to “pull the trigger” on a pretty important decision without taking a moment to play out possible outcomes. As a result almost every single time I ended up kicking myself because things came up that, in hindsight, I should’ve known.

Now this isn’t to say we should live our lives looking backwards – you can’t drive very well if you’re just looking in the rear view mirror. Rather, I want to encourage everyone to hesitate before making major decisions; ask yourself if the rush to a decision is on your terms or someone else’s. Did you put a decision off too long? Or perhaps something just came up and you feel pressured to make an immediate choice.

Sometimes there are no other options, you need to do something immediately and it’s going to be the best choice you could’ve made given the circumstances. For example someone cuts you off and you need to swerve to avoid an accident. For other decisions, especially financial, there is (more often than not) ample time to weigh your options. Unfortunately I believe too many of us just don’t – because it’s uncomfortable or we’re not very well educated about any of our choices.

This leads to last minute decision making, often without enough time to weigh other options or consult a professional. But this IS avoidable. You don’t have to be an expert in everything – we rely on our children’s physicians to help us keep them healthy and our children’s teachers to educate them (even if you home school,  you often get the materials from somewhere).

So where does the hesitation come from to hire an accountant, an attorney or a financial advisor? A refrain I commonly hear is “I don’t need one” or “I don’t have enough money”; but these same people have never worked with a professional (to determine if there really is no “need”), nor have they asked how much the professional charges. In my opinion the insight I have received from hiring professionals has more than offset any investment of time and money on my part.

And I use all three – I have an accountant to help me determine if there is anything I’ve missed; an attorney to make sure my estate plan meets the State’s requirements and provides exactly what I want for my son; and a Financial Advisor to make sure I’m not lying to myself (which we’re all guilty of to some degree). Friends mean well, but even if they’re in the same situation you’re in they are just as likely to overlook things – because they’re living it. An outside point of view will often (not always) be able to identify some think you may not have considered, or explain why something you’ve discounted as not being possible is, in fact, possible.